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George Washington Wilson's early photography

George Washington Wilson (1823–93) was born near Banff to a crofter, the second of eleven children. He initially trained as an artist but took up photography in 1852, establishing a business in Aberdeen. Soon after, he was commissioned to photograph the newly constructed Balmoral Castle. Wilson’s success would ultimately lead to his appointment as ‘Photographer to Her Majesty in Scotland’. Wilson was also a highly successful landscape photographer who combined his eye for the picturesque with his skill in marketing photographs.

This exhibition explores Wilson’s success as both a royal photographer and an innovative photographer of the Scottish landscape. His earliest photographs of the royal family were intended for private royal albums. Wilson’s later, more commercial, portraits of Queen Victoria helped fuel the demand for images of royalty and celebrities that still exists today.

Literary works by writers like Ossian and Sir Walter Scott presented the Scottish landscape as wild and romantic. Wilson photographed the views to which tourists flocked and his photographic souvenirs were purchased in their thousands, enabling him to become one of the leading photographers of his age.

The photographs from the Royal Collection are all original photographs, printed by Wilson or his studio in the 19th century. Many of these photographs were printed expressly for Queen Victoria’s private collection. Some of the glass negatives from Wilson’s royal commissions also survive in the Royal Collection.

After George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

View Representing the City of Aberdeen

George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

Balmoral Castle from the North West

After George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

Queen Victoria on her Pony 'Fyvie'

George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

The Brig o' Balgownie on the Don near Aberdeen

George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

Castleton of Braemar

George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

Loch of Park, Aberdeenshire (Wild Duck Shooting)